It’s pretty hard to avoid the fact that the 2016 U.S. presidential election was one of the most controversial in history. For one thing, it was the first time in a long while that a major-party nominee didn’t have a clear-cut advantage in terms of the electoral college. It was also the first time in decades that a candidate hadn’t served in a prior administration.
All of this is to say that the 2016 election was very unique. Thanks to modern technology, we were able to get a unique look into the campaign and its strategies. One area where we see a lot of innovation is email marketing. Few other industries have changed as much in the last 10 years as email marketing. The good news for marketers is that this also means there are lots of opportunities for you to grow and prosper.
Obama’s Email Marketing Strategy
One of the most remarkable and innovative things about the Obama campaign was its email marketing strategy. For one thing, Obama did more than any other presidential candidate in history to bring people together. His campaign successfully used technology to make inclusivity a central tenet of its messaging. One of the reasons why his messaging was so effective is that it resonated with so many people. In fact, exit polls found that 65% of voters said they received an email from Obama or a campaign that they liked at least somewhat, and 30% said they received an email from someone on the campaign that they liked a lot. While Trump criticized the former president for keeping too much information hidden from the public, Obama’s methodical approach to using technology to connect with voters was a major reason why he was so successful.
In order to truly understand how Obama’s email marketing strategy worked, let’s take a quick look back at U.S. history. Up until 1980, presidential candidates largely focused on the existing electoral map, appealing to the most people they could within the boundaries of the political parties. The vast majority of the electorate had only two choices: the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Since then, the number of choices for voters has increased dramatically, with third-party candidates and independent candidates competing for votes.
Why is this important? Third-party candidates and independent candidates don’t always perform well in the Electoral College, which effectively limits their chances of winning the presidency. This is why appealing to a broader cross-section of the population, as Obama did, is crucial. The more people you can get to vote for you, the more you’ll win. Since the nation is divided politically, with Democrats and Republicans separated by a wide chasm, drawing in more moderate voters, or those who identify themselves as independents, can be a way to gain some support, and even win the White House.
The Importance Of Attracting The Right Audience
As a marketer, one of your most important jobs as part of the 2012 Obama campaign was to attract the appropriate audience to the ballot box. The campaign launched several important initiatives, including My.BarackObama.com, to connect with millennials and Gen Z, two huge groups of people who were previously unrepresented in voting patterns.
With the rise of digital media, the ability to target audiences based on demographical info, interest in topics, and more, grew exponentially. Using these tools, the campaign was able to microtarget specific groups of people and invite them to participate in the political process.
When you’re running for president of the United States, you want to make sure that your message is received and that voters are motivated to go to the polls. The key to effective marketing is being able to cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter, which is why the Obama campaign so effectively utilized digital marketing to get its message across.
The Rise Of Digital Marketing
With the explosion of the digital world in the 20th century, the way we communicate changed forever. Today, digital marketing includes all the methods we use to attract visitors to a website, along with the tools dedicated to analyzing traffic and performing optimisation.
The ability to track an individual’s interactions with an ad or marketing message in real time, via click-throughs, opens up a world of possibilities for marketers. This, in turn, creates new challenges, as you need to ensure your ads are relevant to the target audience and provide valuable, engaging content.
As an advertiser, you have a million reasons to be worried about the future of marketing. The worry is that as audiences get more used to interacting with ad content via online channels, attention spans decrease, driving demand for shorter attention-grabbing content.
Why Online Campaigns Work
In a world dominated by digital marketing, offline techniques, such as billboards and radio ads, are becoming less effective, as people are getting bombarded with advertising messages online. As a result, online marketing is becoming the go-to option for brands seeking to connect with consumers.
If you’re running an online campaign, there are several advantages. For one thing, it’s far more convenient for consumers to access your marketing content online, making the task of finding and engaging with a target audience easier. In addition, online marketing allows for more flexibility when it comes to the time and place of the content delivery.
Since the explosion of the internet, marketing has shifted from a broadcast model, where messages are communicated to the general public, to one where consumer attention is focused on content being delivered online. Thanks to technology, marketing doesn’t have to be restricted to one platform. Thanks to the various tools online marketing offers, such as SEO, paid social media, or content creation, you have a much broader range of options for reaching your target audience.
In order to ensure you’re reaching the right audience, it’s important to conduct research, via focus groups or in-house studies, into what kinds of content the target audience interacts with. It’s also important to determine the ideal buyer persona, which will guide the kind of content you create and the messages you send.
The Need For Inclusivity
While the election was undoubtedly close to call, there are numerous reasons why Obama won. One of which is that he appealed to so many people, including some who had voted for Republicans in the past. There are also a number of reasons why Trump was not able to pull off the upset, which we’ll get into later.
For one thing, Trump’s campaign relied heavily on the internet to get its message out. While many were eager to take a fling at the establisher, saying his campaign was dominated by white men, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. According to a WhiteHouse.gov petition, 99% of the 2.2 million signatures obtained so far were registered to voters of color.
For another, Trump’s campaign did not have the inclusive message Obama did. While some might see this as a positive attribute, it could backfire. As we saw during the campaign, when Trump’s rhetoric and behavior were called out by his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, many voters saw this as a sign that he was not the true conservative he claimed to be. Even worse, some felt he was a racist, despite the fact that he’s a first-generation American whose family came to the country from Wales.
How Trump’s Campaign Wasn’t Up to Par
One of the most remarkable things about the Trump campaign is its ability to garner so much support, especially among people who felt like they had been ignored by the political establishment. While this might not seem like a bad thing, it could be a cause for concern for marketers. After all, if your target audience believes the political establishment has overlooked them, you’re not going to get a whole lot of traction.
This is one of the reasons why the Trump campaign was not effective in garnering support among Latino or Asian voters – his overt message of “Make America Great Again” did not sit well with people of color. Additionally, while his campaign might have been able to appeal to some blue-collar Democrats, his anti-immigrant rhetoric and proposals, such as banning Muslims from entering the country, did not sit well with most who identify as part of the Democratic Party. This was most likely Trump’s Achilles’ heel, as his core supporters were the people he felt had been left out of the political process.
The Rise Of Alternative Forms Of Campaigning
While digital marketing opened up new avenues for marketers during the Obama era, it also created challenges, such as having to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media. Thanks to tools like Hootsuite, which aggregates social media content, marketers can continue to benefit from the efficiencies of digital marketing without having to constantly reinvent the wheel.